Transcendence can be described as a sort of overcoming or surpassing- though it is usually understood in a metaphysical sense- to be transcendent it is usually assumed that one engages with some ephemeral force beyond the regular bounds of human perception. This view is one that both elevates and devalues the transcendental experience. It gives it an otherworldly mystique- detaching it from the milieu of existence- which is understandable given its tremendous power in fundamentally altering one’s perception of that very existence. However, elevating it to this status makes it seem as though transcendence is something adjacent to or beyond regular life, rather than something necessary to seize onto its full joy. In this article, we will examine the modern, western positions on transcendence to clear up misconceptions and establish a basis for understanding the transcendental as an intrinsic element in achieving a fuller conception of one’s self and the world around them- as well as an undertaking that does not, as many assume, preclude religion.
Through this text I wish to engage you in a discussion regarding the relationship between ourselves and the religious experience- not necessarily religious belief in the orthodox theist sense, but rather the wilful adoption of moral principles on an individual basis, without any physical coercion or external input, fostered internally just as those prescribed by religion are held, regardless of society’s attitudes as they currently stand or the permissions granted to us by the state. The core idea at the heart of this investigation is to understand how we can distance ourselves from any instilled or unquestioned ethics, something that is oddly commonplace in a world so obsessed with the individual’s tangible experience- what material wealth they possess or how much attention they garner- yet with such little care given towards individual psychological experiences, and how the gradual removal of individual agency from morality through socialised norms, expectations and enforced laws has created a culture of people unwilling to question those norms and therefore unable to understand the significance there is in obedience or disobedience to them. There is a climate of lethargy in ethical thought, morality is thought of as being formed around the laws and principles of society at large, which none can function outside of, however much they may disagree. To provide an antithesis to this we will examine the ideas of C.G. Jung and Soren Kierkegaard on the topic, examining their utility in giving us a new perception on faith and religious devotion in a way that both strips away the long-defunct role of religion in enforcing moral uniformity whilst breathing into it new life, giving us an opportunity to use the process of religion as a defence against the thoughtless, materialistic individualism that is prevalent throughout the west and as a tool to deconstruct and analyse the normative prescriptions that are impressed on us.